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FIU Football: Butch Davis - Florida Atlantic Postgame

Head Coach Butch Davis spoke for 18 minutes following the team’s 38-19 loss to rival FAU. Here’s the highlights.

Michael Berlfein/FIU Athletics

FIU fell to 0-4 on the season following their 38-19 loss at Riccardo Silva Stadium to rival Florida Atlantic in Shula Bowl XIX on Friday night. The defeat extends the Panthers losing streak to six games dating back to last season.

As is typically customary following FIU defeats, Butch Davis was the sole speaker following the game. His postgame comments are transcribed below.

Davis Opening Statement

On the team’s effort despite the losing streak

“It would be really easy to come up with excuses – COVID/Injuries, etc — The one thing I’m pleased is that our kids didn’t quit and they didn’t stop competing for four quarters – there’s aspects of the game that we’re just not good enough to get a win.”

On the injuries at running back

D’Vonte Price had a game-high 178 yards and was the Shula Bowl MVP for FIU.
Michael Berlfein/FIU Athletics

“D’Vonte is having a lot of success running the football – he’s been doing an amazing job. Maleek Williams had an opportunity to come in tonight and get some time, but we’ve lost multiple running backs (Peterson Jr., Joseph, Owens) we had to play D’Vonte more than I would have liked – him playing every snap kind of goes against the what I’ve established throughout my career as far as using running backs.”

Defending dual-threat quarterbacks

“Defensively, we knew that they were going to start the kid tonight. We knew he was a talented athlete and when you don’t make tackles – four and five-yard gains turn into 20 and 30-yard plays.”

Tommy Heatherly’s performance

“He continues to be one of the best punters in the entire country. The statistical numbers only tell part of the story, when he kicks the hang time is in the 4.9-5.0 range which gives our guys a chance to go cover the punts. Chase Gabriel had an excellent night, we hadn’t put him in position to have to make a long field goal and he did tonight (41 yards) and he’s been good on extra points.”

On inserting Max Bortenschlager

“We made a change at the quarterback position – we came out in the second half and we were gonna give Stone…we talked at halftime about giving him one more possession to see if he could get into a rhythm and getting some first downs. At halftime I talked to Rich (Skrosky) and said let’s give him a chance and see if he can get something going and don’t expect miracles on the first drive. I don’t know what his stats were – but for the first time probably all year long we legitimately had the ball in the hands of some of the receivers.”

On Rivaldo Fairweather

Rivaldo Fairweather had seven catches for 116 yards and one touchdown in the loss to FAU.

“He made some good catches and then he made an absolutely fantastic run after the catch on the slant – took it to the house for a touchdown – for an incoming (true) freshman, that’s as good as a performance to come in and show out what he can do. If you go back to the Liberty game he had a great catch that gave a chance to score – he’s got a great future in this program.”

Offensive line play

“The inexperience in the offensive line – it shows up. Almost every single week at times they do a really good job against blitz pickup and then sometimes because of lack of experience it suffers. A kid like Miles Frazier who’s a true freshman having to go in and play a tremendous amount of time in a game like this.”

In response to questions

Whether it’s Liberty or Middle Tennessee State, the defense has struggled against dual-threat QBs – how tough is it to defend that type of QB?

“If the quarterback is a physically talented runner – it allows for their offense to do a lot of different things. They can misdirection, they can jet sweep, QB counters and draws. Get in a third and seven or eight and you want to keep them from beating you deep – but the quarterback is very athletic – he’s able to scramble and keep the drive alive. Give them credit, but we have to do a better job of defending that as a unit.”

On the quarterbacks

“It’s like when you and I talked on Wednesday” (Wednesday comments — “The issue is getting the confidence with the quarterbacks. Any quarterback on our team hasn’t played much. They’ve got to digest the pre-snap read, they have to understand as soon as the ball gets snapped, it’s not that they’re late with the ball getting out of their hands, they have to digest what the coverage is and what’s going to be the reads – what’s my first read, second read, third read and know that before the ball is ever snapped based on the look that you get. If they try to shell and disguise the coverage – as soon as they do that know okay I’m going here. James (Morgan) was excellent at that.”)

Postgame continued... “I think you saw Max do some of that tonight – have a quick and fast decision. There’s a lot of the coverage that (based on) pre-snap design with the alignment and depth that you already know what they’re doing. Those things will tell you whether they’re coming (blitz) they’re not coming. It’s the toughest thing – the difference two years ago when James Morgan came in here is we had the experienced and veteran guys playing around him and that helped. This year we have no spring practice, no training camp – we’re trying to find out who the quarterback is in games that actually matter. I’m proud of some of things Stone tried to do out there and I’m proud of what Max was able to do. To be honest with you, two weeks ago he wasn’t even going play and this past week he only took about 30% of the practice.”

On four straight losses to FAU

Kathy Hitchcock

“I hate that for the kids. And to be honest whether it’s FAU that’s one thing. But I don’t want them to lose. If you had any idea the level of sacrifice these kids have made just to be able to play on Saturdays. The only way we can get better is to play games and I hate it for the kids that we’re not where we want to be as a team right now.”